Inventory
 

Degree of Pocahontas, Improved Order of Red Men
Dates: 1929-1964
Accession Number: 20020201A
Donor: Vigo County Historical Society
Description: One document case
 

Donor Information: These records were donated by the Vigo County Historical Society which received the materials from Mr. Damon, 201 East Miller in Rosedale, Indiana. The records were delivered along with material from other organizations that used the former Memorial Hall (219 Ohio Street in Terre Haute) as a meeting site. The Daughters of Pocahontas met at 421 1/2 Wabash Avenue.

History

The Degree of Pocahontas (DOP) was the ladies auxiliary of the Improved Order of Red Men, a fraternal/patriotic society.

The Improved Order of Red Men claims to have been founded in 1765 and that it is a continuation of the Sons of Liberty. The aim of the Red Men is "to perpetuate the beautiful legends and traditions of a vanishing race and to keep alive its customs, ceremonies and philosophies." (Axelrod, Alan. The International Encyclopedia of Secret Societies and Fraternal Orders, p. 207.)

The Degree of Pocahontas was authorized by the Improved Order of the Red Men in 1885 in Elmira, New York . The first council, or local chapter, was established in Philadelphia in 1887. Among the principal objectives of the DOP were to embody love and respect for the American flag; preserve the American way of life; keep alive American Indian traditions; and provide organized charity for the needy. (Schmidt, Alvin. Fraternal Organizations. p. 261)

As with other fraternal societies, the Degree of Pocahontas adopted a vocabulary for use during chapter meetings and in the conduct of business with DOP headquarters and chapters - in this particular case, Native American vocabulary was adopted. For example, the presiding officer was known as Pocahontas and the fee for joining the local tepee was called "wampum", and the act of opening a meeting was referred to as "kindling the Council fire". The Tepees also adopted quasi-Native American rituals which were carried out at each biweekly meeting.

The Degree of Pocahontas also adopted a system for their calendar. The Red Men and the DOP calculated years based on Columbus' "discovery" of America in 1492. In the Marie Kee Account Book (Folder 1), the years designated as 429 to 446 correspond to Years 1929-1942 on the Gregorian calendar.

The months of the year were also given Native American or quasi-Native American names as follows:

 

January

Cold Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

February

Snow Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

March

Worm Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

April

Plant Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

May

Flower Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

June

Hot Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

July

Buck Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

August

Sturgeon Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

September

Corn Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

October

Traveling Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

November

Beaver Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

December

Hunting Moon

 

Content and Scope of Collection

This collections consists of 3 record/minute books created by 3 tepees (chapters) of the Degree of Pocahontas, Improved Order of Red Men. Two of the "tepees", the Tepee of Marie Kee and the Tepee of Wahwahtosee, were located in Terre Haute. The Tepee of Tonawanda was located in West Terre Haute.

The Tepee of Marie Kee appears to have been the most successful and enduring DOP chapter of the three represented in this collection. Its meeting minutes follow the minutes of the Wahwahtosee Tepee in the records (Folder 2). The last set of minutes for the Tepee of Tonawanda indicates that the members were seeking permission from the national headquarters of the DOP to consolidate with the Marie Kee Tepee

These minute books contain rosters of officers referred to individually as "Roll of Chiefs"; a list of past Pocahontases (1905-1964); attendance records; meeting minutes; and limited financial records.

Note: As was mentioned above, the International Order of the Red Men and the auxiliary Degree of Pocahontas calculated years based on Columbus' "discovery" of America in 1492. Thus, in the Marie Kee Account Book (Folder 1), the years designated as 429 to 446 correspond to Years 1929-1942 on the Gregorian calendar. The two other "Tepees" used the standard year.

Document Case 1

 

Folder 1

"Roll of Chiefs", Tepee of Marie Kee

1929-1942
(Years 429-446)

Folder 2

"Prepared Roster, Roll & Minute Book"

1936-1937;
1941-1946

 

 

Tepee of Wahwahtosee,
Council No. 282

Sept. 22, 1936-
Nov. 23, 1937

 

 

Tepee of Marie Kee,
Council No. 349

Jan. 3, 1941-
June 19, 1946

Loose

"Records" Book - Tepee of Tonawanda,
  Council No. 224

July 13, 1959-
June 22, 1964